A flood of high school students who jumped turnstiles on their way to a large immigration protest in San Francisco disrupted BART station operations in Richmond and Oakland on Friday morning, leading to a handful of arrests.
Beginning about 9:15 a.m. in Richmond, and about 45 minutes later at the Coliseum and Fruitvale stations in Oakland, commuters were left in the lurch as the surge of about 100 students at each location forced BART officials to keep trains running through those stations, not stopping to allow passengers to board, said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.
There was a brief confrontation at the Fruitvale station between students and police. The young people raised their fists and chanted, "Let us in! Let us in!" as BART and local police blocked the entryways to keep them from leaping over the fare gates.
Blanca Alberts of Alameda had been waiting for about 20 minutes at Fruitvale as the students protested. She was already late for work at Macy's in San Francisco.
"When I got here, there were a bunch of kids," she said. "What happened to the law that they have to go to school?"
Eventually the crowd dispersed, and the Oakland stations reopened about 11:45 a.m.
While filming the protest outside Fruitvale BART, an Oakland Tribune videographer was detained and her tape confiscated by Oakland Unified School District police. The videographer was placed in the back of a patrol car for about 30 minutes and released
Troy Flint, spokesman for the Oakland school district, said OUSD Police Chief Art Michel was trailing the student-protesters as they made their way down International Boulevard. Flint said Michel reported that Tribune videographer Jane Tyska, who was filming from the street at the time, elbowed the police car as Michel drove by.
"The officer confiscated the tape as alleged evidence of the photographer's interference with his ability to conduct his responsibilities, which in this case was protecting student-protesters," Flint said.
Tyska said the officer grazed her with his car as she was walking backward, videotaping protesters in the middle of the street. He then stopped his car, began yelling profanities at her and accused her of hitting his car and inciting a riot, Tyska said.
"I immediately identified myself as a photographer for the Oakland Tribune, showed him my press pass, and said I was just doing my job, but he continued yelling and screaming profanities and said he was going to arrest me," she said.
In Richmond, police had learned of a march involving about 100 to 150 young people from Richmond High School to the Richmond BART station about a half-hour before the event.
The crowd moved peaceably to the station, but once there, some in the group hopped the turnstiles en masse. BART officers on the platform tried to stop anyone who did not have a ticket from getting on the train.
One fare evader, a 20-year-old man, fought with the BART officers, and they pepper-sprayed him. As they were leading him out of the station, BART police officers were surrounded by other protesters and called for help from Richmond police.
Richmond police arrested two people on suspicion of obstructing an officer. They were cited and released.
Cynthia Munoz, a spokeswoman for the protesters, said three students were slammed to the ground and arrested at Richmond BART during the demonstration, including one boy who suffered an asthma attack and had to be taken to the hospital.
Angela Hart contributed to this report. Reach Karl Fischer at 510-262-2728 or email@example.com.